Chef James Merker of Mile End Delicatessen - Biography
Like many kids his age, James Merker started working in restaurants at 16 in his Cleveland, Ohio, hometown. Unlike most kids, Merker eventually found a calling that would take him far from home and much farther up the ladder than he might have expected.
Graduating from Johnson & Wales University, Merker began working his way around the country, picking up skills and encountering flavors from kitchen to kitchen. Closer to home, Merker trained under Chef Michael Symon at Lola in Cleveland, going farther afield under Chefs Jimmy Sneed of Tristan in Charleston, South Carolina; Gunther Seeger of Seeger’s in Atlanta; and Joe Isidori at both DJT in Las Vegas and South Fork Kitchen in Bridgehampton, New York. The city seems to have done the trick in keeping Merker, who’s coalesced a half-country’s worth of lessons as executive chef of soulfully modern Jewish comfort food haven Mile End, where he works with 2013 New York Rising Star Restaurateur Noah Bernamoff.